waterfalls

How to use Kakabeka Falls as a basecamp to explore Thunder Bay

Did you know that Kakabeka Falls is Ontario’s second tallest waterfall?

The 40 m falls are the crown jewel of the appropriately named Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, a hub of family fun in northern Ontario. Camp, hike, bike, and swim to your heart’s content next to a natural wonder.

And, with its convenient location just 30 minutes outside of Thunder Bay, Kakabeka Falls is the perfect basecamp from which to discover one of Ontario’s most dynamic and interesting northern cities.

Here’s why you need to check it out: 

Your home base

Kakabeka Falls is the perfect place to stay and explore Thunder Bay and other nearby attractions.

The park offers almost 170 campsites in three campgrounds: Whispering Hills, Riverside, and Fern’s Edge.

aerial view of falls

Coming with your RV? Whispering Hills has electrical hookups with some pull-through campsites, while the other two campgrounds offer more tent camping sites.

Park amenities include comfort stations with flush toilets, laundry facilities, and showers, as well as a trailer sanitation station.

What to do in the park 

Who wouldn’t want to hike around a view like this?

fall colours

Stroll along the park’s boardwalks to get up close and personal with the mighty falls.

Or journey along a historic portage on the Mountain Portage Trail. You won’t want to miss the excellent vantage points to view the falls, gorge, and river. Keep your eyes peeled for Bald Eagles soaring over the river gorge.

Up for a challenge? The 2.5 km Little Falls Trail loop may be for you. Follow a steep descent into the river valley for a view of the picturesque Little Falls.

Small waterfall.
Little Falls

If you’re a cyclist, take on the Poplar Point Trail. The 4 km loop makes for a great bike ride.

A small beach and picnic area are located in a sheltered area of the Kaministiquia River upriver of the falls. Just a little further down this road is the designated leash-free area for dogs to stretch their legs and swim.

Be sure to stop by the park store at the gatehouse or at the Visitor Centre to purchase park souvenirs and a variety of locally-produced items.

fall colours

Visiting later in the season? The park’s pop of early fall colours make it a great destination for September.

Make sure to check the Fall Colours Report to find the best time to visit. Camping at the park is available until October 12, so you’ll have plenty of time to experience a classic northern Ontario fall.

Destination: Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay is northwestern Ontario’s largest city and contains nearly half the entire region’s population.

And, being only 30 minutes away from Kakabeka Falls, it’s an easy spot to drive to and explore.

Food and shopping

To start, the city’s food scene has absolutely exploded in recent years.

Award-winning chefs have set up shop in the city to take advantage of its unique northern flavours, culinary events, and local craft beers.

city scape
City of Thunder Bay overlooking Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Thunder Bay’s offerings include upscale bistros, vegan restaurants, and greasy spoons. It’s known for several unique specialties, including Finnish pancakes and, of course, the city’s most famous food, the Persian!

You can find a restaurant online before you visit or see where your food is produced on a farm tour.

There are also plenty of great shopping opportunities in Thunder Bay. The Bay and Algoma Neighbourhood is packed with shops selling locally made products, along with unique gift items.

Exploring art

One thing that’s sure to surprise is how much art is on display all throughout the city. Thunder Bay is gaining a reputation for art thanks to the large murals painted on the sides of buildings.

Mural on side of building.

Art lovers can’t miss the Thunder Bay Art Gallery or the Definitely Superior Art Gallery. The Ahnisnabae Art Gallery features the work of Roy Thomas and dozens of other Indigenous artists.

Looking to take up a brush yourself? The Creative Company has a gallery and gift shop with Paint Kitz. These kits provide everything you need to create your own masterpiece from your campsite.

Other attractions

Fort William Historical Park

Spend the day at Fort William Historical Park to see furs, muskets, medicine, birchbark canoes, and more at an accurate re-creation of the North West Company’s inland headquarters.

Or check out the famous Terry Fox Monument and Tourist Information Centre on Highway 11/17, a tribute to a great Canadian hero.

See a different side of Thunder Bay through a themed tour. A list of tours is available online, with an option for every type of traveler.

The creatively minded can stroll through the waterfront public art walking tour or explore the murals on the urban colours and murals tour.

Outdoor experiences

There’s a reason Thunder Bay is called Ontario’s Greatest Outdoor City. There are over 100 parks and recreation areas within the city, and even more outside its borders.

Thunder Bay is located directly on the Lake Superior shoreline where you can take stand-up paddleboarding lessons, try urban paddling, or sail away on a harbour cruise with Sail Superior Big Lake Adventure.

Of course, we can’t forget the other world-class provincial parks in the Thunder Bay area.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is just over an hour’s drive east of the city. Adventure buffs can tackle over 100 km of incredible hiking trails with many spectacular geological features.

You’ll fall in love with Pigeon River Provincial Park, under an hour’s drive from Thunder Bay. This day-use park hosts the 28 m High Falls, the 6 m Middle Falls, and scenic views of Lake Superior and the American shoreline.

canyon
Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park

Enjoy a picnic at Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park before hiking the 1.7 km barrier-free loop trail. See views of a 150 m wide gorge, dropping 100 m down to the canyon floor.

Ready to reserve?

Kakabeka Falls is 30 minutes from Thunder Bay and seven hours from Winnipeg by road, or a 15 hour drive from Toronto.

A flight from Toronto to Thunder Bay is just two hours.

Book your trip to Kakabeka Falls and Thunder Bay today!